Members of the Bi-partisan Missile Defense Caucus Implore President Obama to Maintain Robust Funding for Strategic Missile Defense
In light of the flurry of media reports regarding Iran and North Korea's missile programs, Members of Congress on the Bi-partisan Missile Defense Caucus have sent a letter to President Obama asking him to maintain robust levels of funding for the U.S. strategic missile defense system. The most recent account of belligerence has come out of North Korea in which a spokesman warned they will counterstrike if any country should move to intercept what Pyongyang is calling a "peaceful satellite launch." Iran recently successfully put into orbit their own satellite. As the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. James Cartwright, recently noted, space launch technologies "are compatible with an intercontinental ballistic missile-type capability."
The text of the letter is as follows:
Dear President Obama,
We strongly urge you to continue existing initiatives to robustly field missile defense systems to protect the United States homeland from long range ballistic missiles. In light of the successful Iranian satellite launch and reports of North Korean missile developments, now is not the time to cut strategic missile defense funding or delay the fielding of the only system we have in our arsenal today that could intercept an intercontinental ballistic missile.
In addition to reports about Iran and North Korea's long range missile programs, we have also heard reports that Iran is getting closer to achieving a nuclear weapons capability. Recently Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated he believes Iran has enough fissile material to make an atomic bomb. As you know, the coincidence of an Iranian nuclear weapon and a capable missile delivery system would be devastating to global stability. This is why we strongly agree with Secretary Clinton's following remarks, made March 5, 2009:
"My view is that the people and governments of the Czech Republic and Poland showed great courage and leadership in agreeing to have the missile defense systems deployed on their soil. Why? Because they recognize there is a real potential future threat. They didn't hide their heads in the sand. They said, you know what, we see it as you see it, that missiles not only with a nuclear warhead, but a conventional warhead, or some other chemical, biological weapon, could very well be in the hands of a regime like Iran's, which we know will use whatever advantage they have to intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach, and which - who are actively pursuing a missile development program."
If we follow through with our commitment to our Polish and Czech allies, and place in Europe the same strategic missile defense system currently protecting our homeland against North Korean missiles, this would provide a defense of the United States and our allies against an Iranian missile. We must not delay fielding the most mature and cost-effective defense of our homeland, our forward deployed forces, and our European allies.
The Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Director of the Department of Operational Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E), and the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) have all recently affirmed that the strategic defenses we have in place to protect our homeland could be employed if North Korea were to launch a long range missile. On February 25, 2009, when asked if he was confident the capability can provide a defense of the American people from the North Korean threat, Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of MDA, replied, "Yes, sir. Based on the scenarios that we've tested three times, although it's limited and it's in the beginning, those scenarios overlay a launch from North Korea and a response out of Alaska. And so we have tested three times that scenario first, for obvious reasons. And that is the source of my confidence." During the same hearing, Dr. Charles McQueary, director of DOT&E, stated, "In my annual report, I said ground-based mid-course defense has demonstrated a limited capability to defend against a simple long-range ballistic missile threat launched from North Korea toward the United States." Later that week Admiral Keating, Commander of USPACOM, told reporters, "If a [North Korean] missile leaves the launch pad we'll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president."
The Bi-partisan Missile Defense Caucus (MDC) strongly urges you to take the necessary actions to move forward with the European sites and robustly fund continued development of our strategic ballistic missile defense. In addition, we ask that you ensure that our warfighters have the flexibility to promptly make our missile defense system operational should an imminent threat arise.
Trent Franks, Co-chair (R-AZ)
Parker Griffith, Co-chair (D-AL)
Pete Sessions, Co-chair (R-TX)
Jim Marshall, Co-chair (D-GA)
Doug Lamborn, Co-chair (R-CO)
Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Tom Price (R-GA)
Todd Akin (R-MO)
Gregg Harper (R-MS)
Joe Wilson (R-SC)
Paul Broun (R-GA)
Bill Shuster (R-PA)
Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA)
Mike Conaway (R-TX)
Mike Coffman (R-CO)